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West Rutland Marsh - July 2018

Black-billed CuckooOvercast skies were a welcome relief from the relentless sun for the 14 participants of Rutland County Audubon's monthly marsh walk on July 14th.

The day began with juvenile Virginia rails scooting about among the cattails by the boardwalk. Squeaking was what alerted us to their presence. An adult rail was also present keeping an eye on the youngsters.

As we made our way from there a second surprise was a black-billed cuckoo heard calling. It finally flew by and perched for all to see. This was a life bird for one of our group. During the walk a total of four black-billed cuckoos were heard plus one potential yellow-billed cuckoo. However the song was strange sounding as it had elements of the correct call for that species but then adding other notes. So it was noted as a cuckoo species.

Rose-breasted GrosbeakAlder flycatchers were singing their "free beer" song while warbling vireos indeed were warbling. An American redstart was well seen as was a male rose-breasted grosbeak. A chorus of 14 veeries along the route were singing their lovely descending songs.

As we neared the end of the walk another exciting occurrence was a pair of scarlet tanagers flying right by us in hot pursuit. So close did they pass that we could hear the noise of their wings!

The sought after least bittern was seen briefly by one member of the group. We did try to find this secretive bird but no luck for the rest of us.

The tour returned to the boardwalk and we found that 64 species has been seen or heard. A very great outing was had by all.

The next walk is scheduled for Thursday, August 16, 7 a.m., meeting at the boardwalk.

The day's list:


Mallard  4
Least Bittern  1    
Great Blue Heron  4
Turkey Vulture  1
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Mourning Dove  11
Black-billed Cuckoo  4    
Yellow-billed/Black-billed Cuckoo  1    
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  5
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Alder Flycatcher  5
Willow Flycatcher  4
Eastern Phoebe  3
Eastern Kingbird  7
Warbling Vireo  3
Red-eyed Vireo  8
Blue Jay  3
American Crow  4
Common Raven  6    
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  9
Bank Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  9
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2
Eastern Bluebird  2
Veery  14
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  17
Gray Catbird  14
European Starling  37
Cedar Waxwing  17
Ovenbird  2
Northern Waterthrush  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  14
American Redstart  4
Yellow Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  2
Field Sparrow  1    
Song Sparrow  6
Swamp Sparrow  10
Eastern Towhee  1
Scarlet Tanager  3    
Northern Cardinal  6
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  3
Indigo Bunting  1
Red-winged Blackbird  23
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Common Grackle  86    
House Finch  2
Purple Finch  7
American Goldfinch  20
House Sparrow  1





RCAS 2017-18 Annual Report

On July 11, Rutland County Audubon held its annual meeting for our fiscal year ending on June 30, 2018 at the Proctor Library. Following a delicious potluck supper, the business meeting began with the treasurer's report by Russell Kulas.

After the report was approved and accepted, Marv Elliott, chairman of the Nominating Committee, presented the slate of officers for the coming year. Two changes to our current officers will be Thana McGary as Secretary and Marv Elliott as Treasurer, replacing Kathleen Guinness and Roy Pilcher, respectively. The board thanks Kathleen and Roy for their service in these positions.

The business portion of the evening was followed by a presentation of pictures and sound recordings by RCAS members.

President Nate Dansereau presented the following annual report:

Rutland County Audubon had another good year.

We completed a year of monthly walks at West Rutland Marsh with some record-setting days for the number of participants and the some great birds were in attendance also.

It was another good year for the Christmas Bird Count and the Winter Regulars and Rarities trip to the Champlain Valley. 

Members participated in Vermont Green-up Day at West Rutland Marsh in May to help stay ahead of the constant dumping there.

We had some vandalism of the boardwalk this spring and have made efforts to more securely hold down the board walk decking.

Our annual Century Count was a success, coming up just shy of the goal, but it was a great day of birding together.

In June we had what has become an annual event: West Rutland Marsh Education Day. It was another success with a group of members acting as guides to Proctor Elementary School 5th graders at various natural science stations

Over the colder months we had our monthly programs this year at Grace Congregational Church due to some issues at the Fox Room at Rutland Free Library. Successful programs ran from the Grand Tetons to butterflies.

Vermont State Fair: RCAS continued our annual display at last year’s fair

I attended the semi-annual chapter assembly this past winter where we said good-bye to long time Vermont Audubon Director Jim Shallow. Jim is now with the Nature Conservancy.  Audubon Vermont is searching for a new director. We look forward to welcoming a new director at a board meeting.

All Audubon chapters have similar issues with limited active and aging membership. We are always looking for ideas of how we can make this a vibrant, growing chapter. Any ideas for activities and how we can recruit new members are always appreciated.

In addition to this report is our annual financial report. In summary, our financial state is fine as we have little in the way of expenditures. Income and membership is down.

Upcoming activities:

Our website is the best place to check for activities.

Upcoming walk this Saturday, July 14, at West Rutland Marsh

Trip to the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington on July 21

Bird walk at the Split Rock Trail in Pittsford on August 11

Details from the Board of Directors:

Rutland County Audubon website:

  • We publish our West Rutland Marsh walk reports on a monthly basis.
  • We also publish trip reports such Winter Regulars and Rarities and our annual Century Count as well as the Christmas Bird Count results.
  • We're always looking for new articles!

Rutland County Audubon Flickr:

  • We currently have 800 photos.
  • Each photo is receiving about 150 views.

Rutland County Audubon Facebook:

  • Currently have 400 likes.
  • Updated frequently to advertise upcoming events and articles of interest from National Audubon.


Rutland County Christmas Bird Count:

  • Our 43rd count
  • 52 species, over 7000 individual birds counted

West Rutland Marsh:

  • We average 16 participants per walk.
  • This month's walk marks our 17th year of consecutive monthly monitoring, one of the first ongoing bird monitoring walks in the state.
  • Continue to add new species. Golden-winged Warbler was the latest addition.

Audubon VT/VELCO Surveys:

  • Ongoing effort led by Audubon Vermont to tally the number of Golden-winged Warblers along VELCO power lines along with other target species.
  • Several members participated (Sue Eliott, Marv Elliott, Sue Wetmore, Kathleen Guinness, Marsha Booker and others)

Mountain Top Farm was sold to a new owner this spring. We are awaiting a meeting with the new owner and hope to continue monitoring our easement. This is an ongoing issue that we hope to resolve.

Publicity Report

Increased publicity this year has resulted in increased attendance at our events and an increase in the public’s awareness of birds, birding, our natural environment and related issues.

Events for which publicity was provided, in local calendars of events and/or fliers:

Publications and media which provided us with free publicity for these events:

  • The Rutland Herald
  • Sam’s Good News
  • The Rutland Reader
  • The Mountain Times
  • The Brandon Reporter
  • The Manchester News Guide
  • Vermont Woodlands
  • Vermont News Guide
  • The Lakeside News
  • PEG TV

Publication of monthly marsh walk articles from our Birding Journal in three local papers: Sam’s Good News, The Manchester News Team papers, and Vermont Ski News. Thanks to Sue Elliott and Sue Wetmore for providing these.

In addition, Facebook posts by Sue Elliott, website calendars of events on RCAS’ site, and posts in the Rutland Herald Invite and Rutland Chamber of Commerce website calendars kept the e-readers informed of our activities. And a great article by Sue Wetmore appeared in the Rutland magazine.

The manning of booths by RCAS members Kathleen Guinness, DJ Hammond, and Irene Goebel at the Poultney Earth Day event and the June 2nd Rutland Farmers’ Market plus the carrying of our RCAS banner in the Rutland Loyalty Day Parade by Kathleen and Irene rounded out our chapter’s publicity for the year.

Suggestions for other ways and avenues in which to publicize our presence are always welcome.

Respectfully Submitted,

Nathan Dansereau

President Rutland County Audubon


West Rutland Marsh - June 2018

Eastern KingbirdWe say it every year - it’s hard to beat June at West Rutland Marsh! Birds are still singing and the nesting season is in full swing so there is plenty to hear and see. Fifteen observers tallied 64 species, three more than our average for this month of the year and four more than last June. Our high for Mourning DoveJune was 69 species in 2009.

Waterfowl for the day consisted of one mallard and one hooded merganser, a female. There was no sign, or sound, of the Canada geese that were spotted with young earlier in the season. No doubt we will see the geese again when October rolls around.

As we walked down Marble Street, a least bittern flew over the road near the power line. It was a quick, but satisfactory look, a first for some of us and a highlight for all. Our other bittern, the American bittern, gave us a flight show over Water Street later in the walk. A green heron and a great blue heron were seen as well.

A Virginia rail was heard from the boardwalk where the marsh wrens and swamps sparrows are as vocal as they were a month ago.

Another highlight for the morning came when we heard the sound of young woodpeckers in a cavity and then watched as a male downy woodpecker came in with food.

Other nesting activity included a mourning dove carrying nesting material, recently fledged phoebes and a veery, a gray catbird, and a red-winged blackbird each carrying food for its young.

Red-winged BlackbirdHouse wrens were heard in three locations while a winter wren gave out one burst of song along Marble Street.

Several warbler species were seen and/or heard. We counted 14 common yellowthroats, 10 American redstarts, 10 yellow warblers and eight black-and-white warblers. A single Canada warbler, a species that has eluded us earlier this season, was spotted along Whipple Hollow Road. Two northern waterthrushes were singing in this area as well. Chestnut-sided warblers and several ovenbirds were also observed.

The morning concluded with a belted kingfisher hovering over open water, followed by an osprey soaring over and then disappearing to the north. 

Our next walk is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, 7 a.m.

Today’s list:


Mallard  1
Hooded Merganser  1
American Bittern  1
Least Bittern  1    
Great Blue Heron  1
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2
Mourning Dove  15
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  5
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1    Heard only.
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Alder Flycatcher  4
Willow Flycatcher  3
Eastern Phoebe  6
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  3
Warbling Vireo  2
Red-eyed Vireo  12
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  6
Common Raven  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  4
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  9
Black-capped Chickadee  7
Tufted Titmouse  4
House Wren  3
Winter Wren  1
Marsh Wren  7
Eastern Bluebird  2
Veery  12
Wood Thrush  2
American Robin  17
Gray Catbird  13
European Starling  2
Cedar Waxwing  11
Ovenbird  4
Northern Waterthrush  2
Black-and-white Warbler  8
Common Yellowthroat  14
American Redstart  10
Yellow Warbler  10
Chestnut-sided Warbler  2
Canada Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  12
Swamp Sparrow  21
Northern Cardinal  5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Indigo Bunting  2
Baltimore Oriole  2
Red-winged Blackbird  28
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Common Grackle  8
American Goldfinch  23
House Sparrow  1




2018 Annual Meeting, Potluck and Member Photo Show

Common YellowthroatThe annual meeting and election of officers and directors of the Rutland County Audubon Society will be held on July 11, 6 p.m. at the Proctor Library. A potluck supper will preceed the meeting. Bring a dish to share (utensils and beverages provided).

Our organization is dependent on volunteers to carry out our mission to preserve and protect the habitat of birds. Unfortunately, the demand for volunteers seems to exceed the supply! We have completed many important projects, but there are far American Redstartmore we could do had we more volunteers.

A good way for a beginner to get started is to attend some of our events such as a monthly marsh walk or even a board meeting as our guest. Hopefully you will learn about us and be willing to do more. We are always looking for volunteers to help out with projects and events. The next step is to join our board of directors. Our directors are really the foundation of the organization. They are dedicated to making the organization tick. They work at our seed sales, lead our outings and contribute their time to making us a success.

From our board of directors we select the officers (president, vice president, secretary and treasurer). These are our experienced directors leading us to a productive future.

We hope you will be interested in us and consider joining our effort. Nominations will be accepted from the floor at the meeting or you can contact Nominating Committee Chair Marv Elliott at birding@rutlandcountyaudubon.org prior to the meeting to discuss how you can participate. We would love to hear from you.

Following the annual report and election of directors and officers, members will have the opportunity to show us up to ten of their best bird and nature photos. If you are interested in showing your photos, please send them to birding@rutlandcountyaudubon.org.

See you at the meeting and good birding!


Century Count XXIII

First the bad news. We didn’t get 100 species on our annual Century Count. But now the good news! The birds we did see were wonderful Eleven participants tallied 93 species on 21 eBird checklists.

Prairie WarblerThe early morning stops at West Rutland Marsh and the Pleasant Street power line provided us with more than half of the day’s species. Despite the impending bad weather, the prairie warblers were in full song and we had good looks at them. We were alerted to the presence of a winged warbler by a ‘bees buzz’ song. Fortunately, we were able to see the bird and determine it was a blue-winged warbler and not one of the increasing number of hybrids. Several other warbler species were noted here including a Tennessee warbler. Tennessee warblers were heard at several locations during the day. Chestnut-sided warblers and eastern towhees were very vocal Chestnut-sided Warbleron the power line.

We had the expected species at West Rutland Marsh, Virginia rail, American bittern, marsh wren, yellow warbler and swamp sparrow. Despite two sweeps through the marsh we did not hear or see sora or least bittern. 

The Blueberry Hill WMA was the highlight of the day for us. Our goal was a cerulean warbler, but we ended up with 12 warbler species including two bay-breasted warblers and another Tennessee warbler, as well blackpoll, magnolia, black-and-white, Blackburnian, and yellow-rumped warblers. Ovenbirds and especially American redstarts were everywhere. A mourning warbler was singing in the large clearing east of the wildlife management area. After much searching we all had good looks at it.

We had a thrush trifecta at this location. First a wood thrush hopped onto the trail ahead of us, then a veery and finally a Swainson’s thrush.

By the time we left our lunch stop at Crystal Beach on Lake Bomoseen, a few drops began to fall. The one bald eagle of the day was seen atop the tallest white pine on Neshobe Island. As we made our way north and then looped around to the west side of the lake the rain became steadier and the temperature dropped.

Three male ring-necked ducks were a nice surprise at the Lake Bomoseen/Hubbardton marshes north of the float bridge road. Wood ducks and a great blue heron were there as well.

Black-capped ChickadeeWe decided a brief walk around the campground at Bomoseen State Park might be worth it and indeed it was. A silent Canada warbler was lurking in the brush while a Wilson’s warbler was hopping in the trees along the small marsh. Another Tennessee warbler was singing at the park as well.

The only black-throated green warbler of the day sang once near ‘the Green Dump’ above the Kehoe Fishing Access on the west side of Lake Bomoseen. One common loon was seen out in the lake.

A swing through the West Haven area proved to be worthwhile as we saw and heard our first bobolinks of the trip along with wild turkey, eastern bluebird and savannah sparrow. Two Louisiana waterthrushes were singing along Cogman Road and a green heron was spotted briefly. The day ended with an eastern meadowlark perched on a fence rail at a small cemetery on Main Road in West Haven.

Some odd misses for the day included white-breasted nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker and hermit thrush. Raptor numbers were very low, no doubt due to the weather.

Thanks to C. J. Frankiewicz for leading a great trip!

The day’s list: 

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Common Merganser
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Virginia Rail
Spotted Sandpiper
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson’s Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cerulean Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow